2016 Top Legal Eagles

At some point, we all will need a lawyer. But the difference between the right attorney and the wrong one can be life altering. The law is nuanced, com- plex and ever changing, which is why it’s crucial to choose an attorney who is a specialist in the particular area being pursued. For nine years, Long Island Pulse has been featuring the region’s top attorneys as a reference to easily find the right counsel.

These seasoned professionals have set the standards for their fields and in particular, their areas of practice. They strive for excellence in all their endeavors, give back to their communities and remain active in the development of the law outside the courtroom by participating in, and in some cases leading, organizations that uphold the strictest ethics and legal principles.

Their offices span Nassau and Suffolk Counties, just as their areas of expertise cover the full spectrum of legal endeavor. Their bios are rich in experience and they are all in good standing with their respective bar associations.

Leslie Tayne
Tayne Law Group, P.C.

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Area of Practice: Bankings, Finance, Bankruptcy, Tax
When one of Leslie Tayne’s clients was sued for unpaid doctor’s bills stemming from her daughter’s disability, Tayne intervened. She proved that the child’s estranged father stole medical insurance proceeds and had the matter dismissed. And this is just an example of Tayne’s pro bono work.

Dealing in debt-relief services, most of Tayne’s clients come to her at a vulnerable time. In addition to her nearly 20 years of experience, her firm is one of the few New York State law practices concentrating in debt management and developing alternatives to bankruptcy. Tayne has successfully negotiated settlements with large national banks, credit unions, collection agencies and law firms for credit card companies. Her mission is to reshape debt resolution alternatives. And central to that is providing a supportive and reliable environment that relieves clients of both the stress arising from debts and the burden of a seemingly- endless debt cycle.

Additionally, Tayne has lent her expertise as an active volunteer for The Mortgage Foreclosure Clinic at The Nassau County Bar Association and as a past debt counselor for The Family Services League and Long Island Against Domestic Violence non-profits. Outside of the office, Tayne does extensive philanthropic work. She is actively involved in the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind and launched a specialized Hurricane Sandy Hotline to provide victims with free financial and debt advice.

Lee A. Schwartz
Lee A. Schwartz & Associates, PLLC

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Area of Practice: Corporate, Contracts & Business Law
Working in an area as expansive as business law requires dealing with clients ranging from start-ups to established companies with millions of dollars in revenue. It also takes being intimately familiar with all aspects of business matters and transactions, from shareholder agreements to restructuring and recapitalization.

In his nearly 25 years as an attorney Lee Schwartz has demonstrated his versatility and expertise. Schwartz acts as corporate counsel for small and medium sized businesses, assisting in contract drafting and negotiation, employment law, real estate transactions and succession planning. He works primarily with owners, helping them manage both their business and personal legal needs. His extensive legal experience in this area coupled with his education at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan combine to inform the practical solutions he offers clients.

During the last 15 years, Schwartz has focused his efforts building his practice into a multi-attorney firm in order to better and more efficiently service his growing client base.

Michael Duffy
Duffy & Duffy, PLLC

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Area of Practice: Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can have debilitating effects on its victims and will often change the course of their lives. When this occurs, it takes a seasoned attorney to navigate the legal system and find justice for those who have suffered.

Michael Duffy was the partner in charge of a case in which one of the firm’s clients suffered a serious brain injury following a seizure. With his help, the attorneys at Duffy & Duffy secured more than $100 million for the client after successfully proving that if doctors had treated him in a timely fashion, the injury could have been avoided.

But this is nothing new for the managing partner of his family-run firm. Concentrating his practice aiding catastrophically injured victims and wrongful death claims involving medical malpractice and personal injury, he has secured many multi-million dollar settlements.

Duffy’s philanthropic work includes having served on the board of directors of United Cerebral Palsy of Suffolk County, “We Care” of the Nassau County Bar Association, the Adelphi Breast Cancer Coalition and Cancer Care of Long Island.

Andrew Turro 
Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C.

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Area of Practice: Labor, Employment, Executive Compensation & Employee Benefits
When most people think about horse racing they might envision a day at the track or even the glamour of the Kentucky Derby. Andrew Turro thinks about the law.

Turro recently gained statewide notoriety after a successful constitutional challenge to the New York State Racing and Wagering Board’s out-of-competition drug testing regulations. He argued before the New York Supreme Court that the state agency had exceeded its jurisdiction in promulgating the rules and had failed to adequately identify other particular substances banned and he prevailed.

But as one of the leading labor attorneys in the area, Turro works for clients in all areas of employment. He prevailed in a long-fought case against the Town of Huntington and several other NYS towns and cities that changed the manner in which a municipality conducts real estate tax valuation of contaminated properties. Additionally, he not only successfully defended employers in discrimination and wage claims in the federal courts, but also obtained a favorable resolution on behalf of New York City fire, sanitation and police in the prosecution of a racial and ethnic discrimination action against The City.

From 2001 through 2012, Turro served as a member and the chairman of the Nassau County Board of Ethics. He is also the coordinator of the Meyer, Suozzi Pro Bono program that provides a wide range of legal services to numerous non-profit and charitable organizations.

Thomas Stagg
Stagg, Terenzi, Confusione & Wabnik, LLP

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Area of Practice: Litigation
Thomas Stagg loves the high-stakes environment of the courtroom. He represents clients in areas of commercial, general liability, banking and credit, trust and securities litigation, and he thrives when arguing a case.

Recently, he successfully defended his client and its employees against a claim that they misrepresented the nature of a bond fund investment and the rate of return. Stagg proved that the plaintiffs were fully aware of the investment risks and the specific details of the transaction. In addition, Stagg was able to compel one of the claimants to assert his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination—and virtually destroy his credibility—by cross-examining the witness about his inflated investment loss.

For good measure, Stagg refuted the allegation that one of the claimants could not fully understand English by subpoenaing her employment records, which proved that her work in the medical field required a full grasp of the language, weakening her credibility and causing her to withdraw her claims.

Brian Sahn
Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo & Terrana, LLP

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Area of Practice: Real Estate
The complexities of real estate transactions can often be a dizzying maze of negotiations and legalities. But Brian Sahn has been successfully navigating that maze as an attorney at the firm for nearly 20 years. Sahn represents several large public and private companies and non-profit entities concerning their real estate portfolios, which frequently involve complex environmental, title and facilities problems. He also represents many clients in connection with ground-up real estate development projects and institutional lenders in commercial real estate and multi-family loan transactions.

But Sahn is not simply concerned with the bottom line. Instead, he has taken a key role in ensuring the sustainability of all his projects and even his own law firm. He serves on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Green Building Council, Long Island Chapter, and is a member of the New York State Bar Association Real Property Law Section’s Green Real Estate Committee. He also manages the firm’s green and sustainable initiatives, securing LEED Silver status for its office space.

Carolyn Kersch
Samuelson, Hause, Samuelson, Geffner & Kersch, LLP

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Area of Practice: Divorce, Child, Family & Matrimonial Law
Attorneys are often portrayed as ruthless. Because the law is free of emotion, lawyers are forced to act with no discernable sentiment. Carolyn Kersch however, sees things very differently. As one of the premier matrimonial attorneys in the area she recognizes that her clients’ lives have been turned upside down and when they come to her, they need legal guidance with compassion.

Kersch has been through it herself. Following her parents’ acrimonious divorce at a young age, she discovered her desire to become a matrimonial/family law attorney. Throughout the last decade, she has been determined to provide a more civilized approach to divorce and ensure clients are advised of the impact divorce can have on the entire family, including the children.

Kersch has also continuously volunteered her time and expertise. She has served as a Special Professor of Law for the Family Law with Skills course at her alma mater, Hofstra University. She has also assisted the Hofstra Law Alumni Association with outreach and business development events. In addition, Kersch continues to teach various Continuing Legal Education courses for the Nassau County Bar Association.

Glenn Gruder
Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman, LLP

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Area of Practice: Civil & Criminal
There is nothing like the real thing. And no where is that truer than in the courtroom, as no classroom can duplicate the intensity of litigation. It takes real-life experience to be able to thrive in this environment, thus when Glen Gruder graduated law school, he headed to the courtroom to start as soon as possible.
After receiving his Juris Doctor from Syracuse University in 1985, Gruder landed a job as a Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney. Working primarily in the narcotics division, he obtained numerous convictions in major drug-related cases. During those seven years, Gruder honed the skills to become one of the best criminal lawyers on Long Island.

Today, this partner in the firm’s litigation group has expanded his practice to include real estate, zoning and commercial litigation. He also regularly appears before zoning boards in Suffolk County, obtaining approvals on applications for variances, site plans and changes of zone. But no matter what the case is, Gruder holds true to providing clients with the best litigation possible.

Donna Turetsky
Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman, LLP

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Area of Practice: Trusts and Estates
Donna Turetsky is fully aware of the responsibility she holds—her work leaves a lasting impact on both her clients and their loved ones. As an estate attorney, she ensures that her clients’ wills, trusts, health care proxies and powers of attorney are all in order because the ramifications of these decisions will impact future generations.

Client relations are an integral part of Turetsky’s job. In her elder law work, she is responsible for preparing all their necessary legal documents, including Medicaid applications. She counsels and assists seniors and their families with a broad range of issues, including planning to preserve assets in the face of possible long-term care needs.

Turetsky also assists her clients in every aspect of estate administration. The preparation of probate petitions and estate tax returns, construction and reformation proceedings, discovery and accounting proceedings, and contested estate administration matters are areas she is particularly adept in. When needed, she will also serve as Guardian Ad Litem through the Surrogate’s Court.

Joseph P. Awad
Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C.

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Area of Practice: Personal Injury
A personal injury attorney’s clients come to them in despair, often after a life-altering event; their only respite from this newfound turmoil being a just resolution to their suit.

This was especially true for Joseph Awad’s client, who suffered irreparable damage following a Pap smear examination. Because of negligence by both her doctor and the laboratory, her abnormal test results were not properly reviewed and a second test was not immediately done. A whole year went by before another exam was administered, which then revealed a very advanced stage of cervical cancer. After a radical surgery, his client survived the ordeal and Awad was able to secure her the largest verdict in history for failure to timely diagnose cervical cancer.

Awad works on behalf of consumers in matters including medical malpractice, construction site injury, premise security, automobile accidents, municipal liability and unsafe products. His experience includes million dollar recoveries in more than 70 cases, including the highest jury and appellate award in a single year.